Mirroring at scale

October 10, 2019
Jergan Callebaut

This article was originally published on The Splash.

Have you ever wondered if the image you picked for your ad, email campaign or website will actually convert your customers? It’s a scenario that many marketers struggle with daily. We analyse the target market, we look back at what has worked well in the past and we follow the advice spouted by any number of blogs/articles/videos/podcasts. But, when we boil it down, we rely on an awful lot of guesswork and ‘gut feeling’, rather than what we actually know will work on them.

Using psychological insights and data can be enormously helpful when it comes to understanding what your customers want to see from you. And one of the best ways to utilise content preferences is by using the psychological technique of ‘mirroring’


Implementing the psychological technique of ‘mirroring’ can supercharge customer acquisition

What is mirroring?

The concept of mirroring has long been used as a, conscious or unconscious, way of becoming more ‘likeable’ and trustworthy. Mirroring is a rapport-building technique in which a person adopts the physical and verbal behaviours of the person they are interacting with. This could mean standing in the same way as them, or repeating back a phrase they have used. 

Its ability to make individuals more liked and trusted has made it an invaluable tool to many in the business world. The technique has been adopted by sales teams in particular, where establishing rapport provides a key competitive advantage.

Does it work?

You only have to quickly Google ‘mirroring experiment’ to see the results of thousands of successful tests on the theory. But to give just one example, in an experiment conducted at Duke University a number of students were asked to try a new sports drink and then answer some questions. The interviewer mirrored the posture and movements of half the participants. After the experiment was over, those half who had experienced mirroring were significantly more likely to say they would buy the drink – and to predict its market success.


People are more likely to be excited by products when the mirroring technique is being implemented

Mirroring and content preferences 

As we’ve just established, mirroring can work to enhance people’s trust in products. So, in theory, it should be an incredibly effective tool in marketing as well as in sales. However, you probably already realise that you yourself personally practicing mirroring techniques on your audience in their hundreds, thousands, or even millions, would take you a lifetime. So how can we apply the theory in a way that’s actionable?

One of the most practical – and effective – methods of making this happen is by analysing what type of content your customers are more likely to engage with and providing them with content similar to what they have found the most engaging in the past.

How do you know what content your audience want?

The current prevalence of guesswork and gut feeling is good for creativity (one of most marketers’ all-time favourite words) but it relies on decision-making being logical and rational. It’s not. We make snap decisions based on emotions and our own gut feeling. In fact, psychology tells us that we have already made up our mind 10 seconds before we even make the choice we end up making, according to a study by the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany.


The market is saturated and guesswork isn’t good enough anymore

The reality is that guesswork is no longer good enough to keep you competitive in an oversaturated market. But you can rely on one thing that you’ve already got in its droves to reliably help you understand your customers’ content preferences: data.

Using your data to understand your customers interactions

With data and insights rooted in psychology on your side, uncovering how your current or target audience have responded to digital advertising content in the past will help you to understand what they want to see from you in the future.

If you have an infinite amount of time, and a lot of psychologists in your team to analyse and label all your assets, identifying the features with the best cost per lead, cost per click or CTR, you can go about doing this now. 

But you probably don’t.

Fortunately, this process is something AI can do much faster, delivering content recommendations almost instantaneously. There are already some tools out there that can streamline the process of mirroring content back to the customer. And, as more marketers wake up to the reality that they are relying on guesswork rather than working from a deep understanding of their customers, AI content recommendation platforms will swiftly grow into a booming industry as marketing becomes even more creative – just guided by powerful AI systems. 

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